With International Women’s day approaching, we thought we would look at the experiences of many women in the workplace. Despite us coming on in leaps and bounds in terms of equality, it’s safe to say that the difference in daily experiences between men and women at work is vast.
Here, we have taken some of the big things that women would love their male bosses or coworkers to hold fire on.
The assumption that they will do the ‘mum’ jobs
You don’t have to look very far to find a company where it is assumed that the female members of staff are ‘better suited’ to take on smaller, menial jobs outside of their remit. This could include doing the dishes, making teas, arranging staff birthdays, looking after the general wellbeing of other members of staff or organising outings. This is not just amongst lower-level employees, this attitude can be found on all levels, right up to a board of directors.
Treat them as ‘less professional’
In the past, women either did not work, or would work in menial secretarial roles, mainly for more senior men. However, since the mid-1900s, this has most definitely changed. Be it due to feminist movements, the desire for more financial independence or the necessity for both men and women to work, women have travelled up the ladder and now hold the same positions as their male counterparts. However, many women feel that their male co-workers do not see things this way. The experience of a lot of women is that they are asked to do things such as book hotel rooms, order lunch for meetings or take on other admin-related tasks. If you seem to be asking female colleagues to take on the jobs that an administrator would do, it may be time to think of hiring one.
Using demeaning or offensive terms
We get it, you often spend more time with colleagues than your friends and family. You want to create a familiarity and rapport with them to ensure that you all feel as comfortable as possible when taking on the late nights or weekends away. However, the key is to ensure that no one is offended by language choices – this can be caused by using gendered words. In the English language, masculine words often carry with them a lot of respect, such as ‘sir’, but feminine words, such as ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’, can often make women feel patronised or demeaned, especially if they are used in the same conversation or context as ‘sir’. The best course of action is to avoid using gendered terms at all, and stick to calling people by their name, or title if needed in a more professional setting.
If you ask any woman about this, almost all of them will have a personal example of when they have been talked over or interrupted by a male coworker. This can happen in meetings, 1-to-1s or general office chitchat, and chances are that the focus will not be returned to the woman. This is a huge issue in companies such as engineering or IT firms, where the environment is very male-dominated, and women feel the need to have a justification for being there.
This last one goes for men and women – unless you know for a fact that a person appreciates a touch on the arm or shoulder, it is the safest bet to just refrain from touching them. An unwarranted touch, albeit with completely innocent intentions, can very easily be misconstrued. Respecting people’s boundaries will get you into a whole lot less trouble than not.
If you would like any advice or support regarding the content of this post, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our HR professionals.
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